A very long time ago, some 2000 years, a couple of Hebrew parents left their homeland and immigrated to Egypt along with their young son. The child was being threatened and was in danger of being killed. The parents, Joseph and Mary, did the only thing they could do to save their child; they took whatever they could, made a long journey on foot and became aliens in Egypt. Herod was going to have all the baby boys of the Israelites killed. Did Joseph and Mary perhaps join a caravan of travelers who also sought to save their infant sons? Did they enter Egypt with permission? Did Joseph, who was a carpenter, have a chance to take along any of his tools? Could he support his family in Egypt? Did he and his wife Mary speak the language? Were they accepted by the Egyptians?
Presumably, the young boy Jesus was profoundly shaped by his early life experience as an alien. Years later, as he urged his followers to feed the hungry and share what they had with those in need, perhaps he was remembering the kindness of others to his family, or being hungry himself in Egypt.
It’s 2000 years after Joseph and Mary’s journey; parents are still desperate to save their children from violence, kidnapping and hunger, and to save themselves from rape, murder and starvation.
In many cases, their only hope of safety for their families is to leave the violence and/or poverty in which they live and seek a new home. It’s 2000 years later, and millions of good and loving people are trying to find ways to assure that all people have safe and healthful ways to live. The immense size and complexity of the human need can be so overwhelming that good people despair. In fact, if we each take small steps and join with others with shared values, we can bring about change.
This past summer, we Sisters of Divine Providence participated with other religious communities, schools and universities, 136 parishes, COPS/Metro, a city-wide community organization, and other agencies in the Archdiocese of San Antonio in a postcard campaign asking for the cooperation of government leaders in finding ways to address the immigration crisis. The message included a request for immigration reform that would uphold the rule of law, preserve family unity, protect the human rights and dignity of every person, contemplate a path to citizenship for “Dreamers” and include humane enforcement policies. There were 30,000 postcards collected. Our hope is that these are serving as a significant motivator for our Congresspersons to take action on U.S. immigration policy.
Our Chapter Statements of recent years are relevant to the current immigration situation. We say in our 2017 Chapter Statement that we commit ourselves “to act with courage and collaborate with others to heal what is broken and celebrate what is good in our world.” As far back as 1998, we committed “to build a new community modeled in the unity and diversity of the Trinity” and “cherish and nourish diverse relationships and community.” In 2000, we are committed “to restore harmony through open and respectful communication, to dare to advocate on behalf of a world wounded by violence . . . replacing barriers that exclude with bridges that unite.” In 2005, “In response to the pervasive violence in our society and our universe, we commit ourselves to work for peace and non-violence in all that we do.” Are we up to the challenge, the high ideals, the true gospel values?
We strive toward these ideals while living in a world torn by increasing tension. We join the many others who have become heart-breakingly concerned about the unleashing of aggression and hostility toward those who are and who think differently than themselves. Rather than listening, seeking understanding and searching for common ground, some turn to force and even brutality. Rather than respectful communication, others use vindictive language.
We join enthusiastically with the sentiments of Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, M.Sp.S, of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas, expressed in a recent press conference: “’Be not afraid to protect the dignity of every human person, the value of every human life, working for the common good and supporting those means by which we can build a culture of life and a just society.” –Sr. Ann Petrus, CDP and Sr. Anita Brenek, CDP
The Women of Providence in Collaboration join with the Sisters in San Antonio to strive toward these same ideals. We seek to bring truth and justice to a wounded world, and offer the face of HOPE wherever we are!